I’ve been on a bit of a slowcore binge of late, digging into some of the 90s era bands like Codeine and Idaho as well as more modern ones like Low. Codeine, in particular, is one that I’ve long been familiar with, but never really invested the time to appreciate.
Well, that changed.
Today, I’ll be taking a look at the new reissue of What About the Lonely? courtesy Numero Group, who has released that along with Codeine’s two studio albums this year. My copy is the Green Room edition on nice, rich, emerald green wax.
A Brief Look at the Slowcore Band Codeine
Active between 1989 and 1994, Codeine released just two full length albums during their original tenure as a band, though they also gave us a number of singles and the Barely Real EP. The two albums, Frigid Stars from 1990 and The White Birch from 1994 were also reissued this year by Numero Group, as was Barely Real and a few other items.
In 2022, Dessau was released, which contains studio recordings from what would have been the band’s sophomore album were it not scrapped at the time.
This album, What About the Lonely?, was released in 2013 as a Record Store Day exclusive limited to 2,000 copies, half pressed on red vinyl and the other half on black. Now, 10 years later, we get three new variants as part of Numero Group’s “20th Anniversary” collection.
One is a Numero Group exclusive on Photobooth vinyl (which is gray wax with black marbling), a Green Room pressing (which is on green wax), and your standard black pressing.
Unboxing What About the Lonely?
What About the Lonely? is actually a live performance recorded October 15, 1992 at Lounge Ax in Chicago. And, for a live recording, it’s pretty solid! It captures that 90s era slowcore and gritty indie rock sound perfectly, and lends to the greatness of a band like Codeine.
The hype sticker calls out the following, which explains the superior quality of the recording:
“Captured direct from the mixing board at a stop on Codeine’s November 1993 swing through the Midwest opening for Mazzy Star, What About the Lonely was recorded at the group’s live zenith … cutting through a crowd of chatty midwestern 120 Minutes fans at Chicago’s notorious Lounge Ax.”
You get the live aspect conveyed on both the front and back of the sleeve, which is a wrap-around, zoomed-in, and cropped image from the performance. A focus on the feet is so signature to the slowcore and shoegaze movements. I like how that’s conveyed here on the cover.
Inside we get a printed inner sleeve, but it’s a generic label one that highlights other Numero Group releases. It’s fascinating to see a number of albums I have in my collection here. Karate’s The Bed is in the Ocean, Blonde Redhead’s self-titled release and La Mia Vita Violenta, and Duster’s Together.
The wax is on this rich forest green vinyl, and the black labels with and off-white or even cream printing compliment it nicely. Usually, I don’t like when colored vinyl doesn’t translate and compliment the art itself, but that’s not the case here. There’s enough tie-in with the Green Room call out, and it also seems to draw the green in from the drum kit barely visible and out of focus in the background from the front of the sleeve.
The Music Within
Within What About the Lonely? we get only two tracks from the first Codeine album, Frigid Stars LP. Those two are “Cave-In” and “Pickup Song.” More can be found from the album they’d release two years later, The White Birch. One track, “Jr,” comes from Barely Real, the EP the band released in 1993.
In the visualizer from Numero Group below, you’ll hear it begins with a brief a capella before the band jumps into “Cave-In.”
I got sucked in pretty quickly to Codeine after picking this album up during a Labor Day Sale at Josey Records. The day after, I went on a 36 mile bike ride around White Rock Lake here in Dallas, listening to this album, Frigid Stars LP, Idaho’s Levitate, Low’s HEY WHAT, and Duster’s Together.
After filming my unboxing video and asking the viewers to recommend which of the two studio LPs to get first, I went ahead and ordered Frigid Stars LP before even editing the video. That’s since arrived and it’s on cool “Heat Death” vinyl, which is clear wax with black splatter. Take a look:
Let me know down in the comments if you’d like me to dig deeper into that one.